The Faces of the Working Class |

The Faces of the Working Class

Dixie Jacobs LukeHamilton of Austin, Colo., demonstrates sheep shearing each hour at the trials.

The Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials announced the winners of the 2010 TDS Art contest at a recent reception. Bill Long of TDS Telecom and Sandy Bliss, chair of the art committee, awarded the TDS Shepherd’s Award to Donna Lee Clemenson of Denver for her painting “The Faces of the Working Class.” The Shepherd’s Award includes a $500 cash prize donated by TDS Telecom.

The original painting will be auctioned on Saturday, May 8, at the lunch break during the Sheep Dog Trials, which will be held in Hotchkiss, Colo. from May 7-9. It is reproduced as a limited-edition poster that will be sold at the trials. Clemenson will be at the trials to sign posters for the purchaser. The image is also printed on T-shirts which will be sold at the trials.

“The Faces of the Working Class” presents faces of border collies, which have no breed standards for appearance. A good working dog is judged on its herding performance rather than its looks. In general, border collies are medium-sized, ranging from 25 to 60 pounds. Their coat may be smooth, medium or rough. The hair can be long and somewhat wavy or very short and straight. Rough coated dogs develop an undercoat of fine hair in the winter. Collies are black, black with tan, or less common reddish brown. There will be an occasional white dog or a red or blue collie. Merles, which have a solid body color with patches of blue or red which gives a speckled or mottled effect, are also possible. Predominately white border collies occasionally appear. All collies normally have white marking. This includes a blaze on the face and a collar. Legs are white as well as the tip of the tail.

Border collie ears can be from floppy to prick. And both ears may look differently. Eyes can be any color. Some dogs may have one blue and one brown eye.

Border collies are known for their desire to work. In fact they could be called workaholics. They are extremely quick, high energy, busy dogs. They work livestock with their heads lowered and eye the stock with an intense stare. They dominate the stock with their stare. The dog remains calm and steady until it gets the stock to move. Then the dog will move almost imperceptible to take advantage of or counteract the stock’s movement.

Border collies are known as gathering herders rather than heelers. Their instinct is to run wide around a flock of sheep and retrieve them to the shepherd. They can be taught to drive stock away from the handler.

Border collies are bred for endurance. They can run moving stock for several miles each day. As ranch dogs they may do this several days in a row. Because of this they do not make good pets for a person who cannot give them plenty of exercise. When their energy is not directed they can become neurotic, obsessive and destructive.

Border collies herd anything that moves. Although most commonly used with sheep and cattle, they are gaining popularity on golf courses where they are trained to herd geese off the course. Since they herd by “eye,” they will attempt to dominate moving machinery like lawn mowers. Cars drive them wild, and if not trained early to ignore them, they often get into the habit of chasing cars. Children often become the target of the border collies’ desire to nip at the heels of a runner. Therefore unless the dog is trained not to heel children, the two do not mix well.

Border collies love attention and praise. They are people oriented. They are loyal to their handler and often reserved with people they do not know. They can be very affectionate seeking the pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear from their human friends. But unless they are taught to socialize, they can be aggressive toward other dogs.

Border collies are highly intelligent and very trainable. Although they are quick learners, they are slow to mature. Often they will exhibit puppy behavior for two years or more. Trainers find it is best not to rush them. They will mature on their schedule. Basic obedience is taught early but serious stock work does not begin until the dog is at least a year old. Firmness and consistency are essential in training.

At the Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials, spectators will get an opportunity to see “The Faces of the Working Class.” Handlers from around the United States will compete in this trial. The trials are held in a meadow on Hotchkiss Avenue which is one block from downtown Hotchkiss. The event which is held annually on Mother’s Day weekend is May 7-9 this year. The working classes begin at 7 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday and run until late afternoon.

The event also features a display of sheep camp wagons for attendees to visit. The San Juan Weavers Guild will be demonstrating with wool, taking it from “sheep to shawl” on Saturday. Also on Saturday the hourly sheep shearing demonstration promises to amaze the crowd. The shearer will remove the sheep’s winter coat in less than five minutes.

For more information, please contact the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce at (970) 872-3226 or visit the Web site at


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